Defining your values is important
While business is, of course, about money, it’s about other things too. Business is also about your values and the vision you create for your company, both now, and in the future. Defining these values and vision – what your company stands for – is where a lot of the fun comes in!
For the first ten years at Bramble Berry, our mission (or vision) was to be the best at customer service in our industry. In everything we did, this is what we were striving for. Now, we’re updating that a bit as we continue to grow and build on our positive foundations. We want our new vision to move towards the idea of providing opportunities to change lives. We’re still working on the exact wording but the idea of providing women and men all over the world the opportunity to have a great part time or full time business using our supplies is powerful.
Initially, it took us nearly three years to decide which values we wanted for Bramble Berry. And going through this was not always an easy process. At one point, we had pages and pages of potential value statements. We even once had a value that said ‘profitability will never be our ultimate goal.’ But it turned out, that a value statement like that just wasn’t very practical (remember how we ran out of money? That’s easy to do when you say that you don’t care if you want to be profitable!). After much winnowing, discussions and trial periods, we were able to define the values for our company.
Today, Bramble Berry’s core values are as follows:
(1.) To be an industry leader
(2.) To stand behind our quality products
(3.) To show L.O.V.E. to our customers and employees (L.O.V.E. stands for: changing Lives (the L), creating Opportunities (the O), delivering high Value (the V), and encouraging creative Expression through the five senses (the E).
(4.) To be socially responsible
(5.) To recognize that profitability equals opportunity
These values are important because they stand as the benchmark against which we measure our actions. Every decision we make goes through these filters.
For example, when we’re thinking about whether or not to bring on a new line, we have to ask ourselves, “Does this line meet the standards outlined in our values?” If the line is a sub-par product, then our answer has to be “no”. Because of our core values, we have also decided not to carry Indian Sandalwood essential oil, despite its popularity. Sandalwood’s endangered species status doesn’t match up with how we’ve stated that we want to run the business. Every single decision we make as a company can be run through our values filter. Often times, I’ll look at a project that is labor and time intensive (like the painted Christmas soap ornaments) and say, “Yes, that will cost me a full weekend to design, make, photograph, write and upload but it’s in keeping with our value to be an industry leader and to show L.O.V.E. to our customers, so I’ll do it.” These are just a couple examples but I hope they help you see why it’s important to develop a set of core principles that lead you down the path of business success that you can be proud of.
Choosing values for your own company can be lots of fun. You start by asking yourself, “What do I stand for?”
- Maybe you stand for 150% customer satisfaction.
- Maybe you stand for providing living wage jobs in your community.
- Maybe you stand for fast product delivery 24/7.
- Maybe you stand for protecting the environment.
- Maybe you stand for supporting women business partners in your community.
The reason I say this is a fun part of the business growing process is that you can stand for anything you want! Be as creative as you’d like! Eventually, you choose 4-5 values that are most important to you, and then integrate them into your business practices. Developing core values can help guide you through the many business decisions that will come your way and they will help to ensure that you’re building a company you can be proud of.
Your homework today is to come up with a brainstorming list of to start your journey towards a vision statement that fits you and your business (Why are you here? What do you want to do that is different? What impact do you want to have on your local or global world?). I want you to also brainstorm a list of potential value statements. Just three or four pages of chicken scratchings, scribblings and a stream-of-consciousness thought is all you need to come up with. You don’t need to put them in order, rank them or anything. Simply sit in a quiet place and spend 30 minutes listing out anything and everything that comes to mind.
Next up: We’ll look at how you can inspire others through your vision and values.
Looking for another part in the “Kickstart Your Business” series?